NASCAR Betting Guide: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Guide: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

This Sunday in Texas is a good bounce-back spot for teams in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Each of the past five races have been at either a road course or a track one mile or shorter. If your team is struggling in those settings, you've had a month of misery.

But Texas is about speed. There's not much tire degradation, and there aren't a bunch of lanes to choose from, so raw giddy-up will play a bigger role. It could lead to a different group of contenders than what we've had of late.

That's not leading to any outright value for me. The only drivers where I'm even a fraction above market in FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds -- Chris Buescher (+2800) and Erik Jones (+8500) -- are both within 0.6 percentage points of their implied odds.

But the top-10 market gives us value on drivers in desperate need of a good run. My model's a bit more optimistic that they can get it done this week than the market is.

AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Betting Picks

Austin Dillon to Finish Top 10 (+1200)

(UPDATE: Dillon has since shortened to +850 to finish top 10. After qualifying, he's at 10.0% for me, down from 10.5% implied, meaning I'd pass at the shorter number.)

Austin Dillon has been in hell all year. He has been dreadfully slow on short tracks, and in other races, he has gotten caught up in incidents within the first few laps.

Unless he magically forgot how to drive, though, this number is too generous.

The one decent run for Dillon this year came in Las Vegas, the other 1.5-mile non-drafting track the Cup Series has run this year before Texas. There, he had a 15th-place average running position and finished 16th. It's his lone top-20 finish through eight races.

Dillon was competent on these tracks last year, too. He snagged top-10s in Charlotte and the first Kansas race, so it's not all that outrageous to think he could duplicate that at a track he won at in 2020.

The entire Richard Childress Racing organization has been a disaster on short tracks, so it's not a surprise Dillon has struggled of late. Getting them back to a track where speed matters more should provide a boost. I've got Dillon at 14.9% for a top 10, nearly double his 7.7% implied odds.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Finish Top 10 (+2000)

(UPDATE: Stenhouse has since shortened to +1100 to finish top 10. He's 6.4% to finish top 10 for me, down from 8.3% implied. Thus, I would pass at the current number.)

You can copy and paste most of the Dillon blurb down to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at an even longer number.

Stenhouse -- like Dillon -- was decent on 1.5-mile tracks last year. He had a pair of top-10s, including one right here in Texas. The other was in Charlotte, which has a similar layout to Texas.

Among non-drafting tracks this year, Stenhouse's best run came in Vegas. It was just a 17th-place finish, but getting confirmation he wasn't totally out to lunch was a plus.

Thus, my model has Stenhouse at 7.9% to finish top 10. With his implied odds at 4.8%, he's a good value here.

Zane Smith to Finish Top 10 (+2500)

(UPDATE: Smith has since shortened to +700 to finish top 10. My model now has him at 6.1%, down from 12.55 implied. Thus, I would not add Smith at his current number.)

Zane Smith didn't get the same boost in Vegas; that's because he hit the wall within the first few laps and had to limp around damaged the whole rest of the day.

His teammates did run well, though. Both Corey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar had top-15 average running positions and easily could have finished in the top 10. Spire's offseason speed gains were evident there.

Smith ran well on 1.5-mile tracks in the Truck Series. He had a top-five average running position in all four races on that track type where he wasn't involved in an incident last year, and he won at Kansas in 2022. He added a top-10 in Cup last year at Charlotte during a cameo for Front Row Motorsports.

Smith's implied top-10 odds are just 3.9%; I've got him at 5.6%. I think we should take advantage of that with all the speed this team showed back in Vegas.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Chase Briscoe to Finish Top 10 (+240)

If you want to swing for the fences, I do have a bit of value on Chase Briscoe to win (1.6% versus 1.2% implied at +8500). But I'd rather take the coward's route and bet him to finish top 10.

There, I have Briscoe at 31.2%, up from 29.4% implied. I'm a bit surprised by this, given that Briscoe qualified fifth. Typically, starting position is over-weighted in betting models, so getting Briscoe at a common-sense number was unexpected.

Briscoe's speed was decent in practice as he ranked 15th in single-lap speed and 10th in 5-lap average (after making adjustments for group speed differentials).

Briscoe was putrid on bigger tracks last year but improved as the season went along. That showed up in Texas as he claimed a 10th-place finish during the fall. With Stewart-Haas Racing's speed seemingly improved, I'm fine trusting him in this market.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Michael McDowell to Finish Top 10 (+650)

Michael McDowell was decent at Texas even before Front Row Motorsports moved to Tier 1 status at Ford. He had a top-13 average running position in both Next-Gen races here, and now the team has more speed.

It makes McDowell easily the best value on the board for me.

That new-found speed showed up on Saturday. McDowell was eighth in single-lap speed and fourth in five-lap average (again, after adjusting for group speed differentials). He qualified 13th, so he's not far outside of cashing already.

Add it all together, and my model has McDowell at a whopping 25.1% to finish top 10, way up from his 13.3% implied odds. It's possible the model is over-selling McDowell, but with the gap this big, I'm fine trusting that it's directionally correct.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.